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ARSCLIST  December 2006

ARSCLIST December 2006

Subject:

Re: Digitizing libraries

From:

Jim Lindner <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 13 Dec 2006 11:22:21 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (169 lines)

This is a very interesting post, just one very quick comment. I have  
been a consultant for the Library of Congress for about 5 years now -  
and I can tell  you for sure - absolutely - that those quotations of  
space are just - well - silly. Since the library does not even have a  
full accounting of exactly how large the collection is - and because  
it grows every minute (literally) these "estimates" really have  
absolutely no basis in fact. The Libraries collection includes many  
more types of objects then books. And even if you just consider the  
books - they are in many different languages - and what about the  
pictures in the books? There are illuminated manuscripts. In the  
National Audio Visual Conservation Center being built in Culpeper  
Virginia, the estimate is that many terabytes a day will be generated  
in the transfer of analog carriers. So - the planning is in petabytes  
on an annual basis. As far as Ultra HD - that is an experimental  
format that has been developed by NHK and is not a broadcast format,  
and to the best of my knowledge is primarily a research and  
development project. I would have loved to attend the lecture on the  
St. Catherine digitization project - I am personally very interested  
in that project. One comment about the operators used for  
digitization - and this is from someone who has supervised many  
people who have that precise job. There are many different types of  
materials that similarly require different skill levels. One of the  
overarching issues is not only the operator skill level, but the  
standards set for a project and the quality control and system (by  
system i mean ENTIRE system) used to maintain it. While humans are  
great at certain things they are not great at everything - and as  
just a matter of fact - often the task of digitization is a boring  
job that is difficult to maintain concentration on. Sure, if all the  
material was fascinating and we all had perfect days at work and at  
home, and if humans could maintain a verifiable (meaning measurable)  
level of focus that would be great. But - for example - for a human  
to really be able to note material condition on a second by second  
basis is just not possible. So after one has done this for a long  
time - you get to the point where you look elsewhere to insure  
quality control and consistency of work over time. Generally that  
means systems that are either automated or semi-automated to assist  
the operator.

I have not had time to comment on the threads on the Digital Black  
Hole - but I have been saying for MANY years that the cost of storage  
was only a small part of the full cost of maintaining a digital (or  
anaog) archive. As time goes on, the proportion of cost of storage  
relative to other costs will continue to shrink. This should not be a  
big surprise to anyone really. It may be a paradigm shift, but it is  
not all that different then what has been happening in the IT field  
for many decades. One of the "good news" items in all this is that  
because computers are so widely used there is tremendous purchasing  
power that continues to drive prices down, and most expect that trend  
to continue. Technology tends to get smaller, better, faster, and  
cheaper over time. Society is making more AV "stuff" then ever  
before, we need to continue the shift to an IT environment so that we  
can manage it all.



Jim Lindner

Email: [log in to unmask]

   Media Matters LLC.
   SAMMA Systems LLC.
   450 West 31st Street 4th Floor
   New York, N.Y. 10001

eFax (646) 349-4475
Mobile: (917) 945-2662
Office: (212) 268-5528

www.media-matters.net
Media Matters LLC. is a technical consultancy specializing in  
archival audio and video material. We provide advice and analysis, to  
media archives that apply the beneficial advances in technology to  
collection management.

www.sammasystems.com
SAMMA Systems provides tools and products that implement and optimize  
the advances in modern technology with established media preservation  
and access practices.


On Dec 13, 2006, at 9:56 AM, Karl Miller wrote:

> "Steven C. Barr(x)" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:    >If this  
> implies what I suspect it may...it gets me thinking about
>> a further possibility! Since sound files for the most part start out
>> in digital form...and image files (as well as possibly text files,
>> such as books...!) can be converted to digital files by  
>> >scanning...how long will it be before libraries are converted to  
>> >institutions with huge multi-disc servers...Will future libraries  
>> be >measured in terabytes (or whatever follows those...?!)...
>
> There was a time when the content of all of the text in the Library  
> of Congress was used as a point of reference to give some  
> conceptualization of a terabyte...as I recall reading some years  
> ago...in an attempt to give some notion of the size of a terabyte  
> it was stated that if the entire text of all of the material in the  
> Library of Congress was converted to ASCII it woulc require about 4  
> or 5 terabytes of storage. Most recently wikipedia suggests it is  
> about 20 terabytes.
>
>   Also from wikipedia...one hour of uncompressed "ultra" high def  
> video takes approximately 11.5 terabytes. While it might not be  
> time for us to think in terms of zettabytes or yottabytes, we might  
> need to think in terms of petabytes.
>
>   As to the role of libraries in all of this. Many libraries  
> outsource their digital storage. It makes sense in that they don't  
> have the infrastructure to deal with it...level of salaries,  
> expertise, hardware, etc. Computer providers have all of the above,  
> so, they will be (and already are) our libraries.
>
>   Two nights ago I attended a lecture...there is a project to  
> digitize the approximately 4,500 volumes of the library of the  
> Monastery of St. Catherine at the base of Mount Sinai. They still  
> have lots of money to raise, but they estimate it will take 5  
> workstations about 5 years to do the job. Ok, we aren't talking  
> regular books, we are talking fragile material...perhaps not unlike  
> dealing with a glass based lacquer with some cracking...well, I  
> would guess the lacquer would be more problematic. So, it will take  
> time...my guess is that it will take them much longer than they  
> estimate.
>
>   In short, who is going to do all of this work? Who is going to  
> train the people? The presentor said they plan to use some of the  
> local bedouins to do the job...I am reminded of those who would use  
> work study students to do audio transfers...I am reminded of our  
> library director who places no value on the skill sets required to  
> do audio reformatting.
>
>   The folks working on the St. Catherine's project are having to  
> design their own scanning workstations...with an estimated cost of  
> about $150,000 a workstation...then the cost of salaries of those  
> doing the work...insurance, meetings, training, etc. Who has such a  
> large checkbook for something that might be of interest to Biblical  
> scholars around the world...how many biblical scholars are there?  
> What will be the final cost, per scholar, of scanning those 4,500  
> books?
>
>   My guess is that they will never finish the project. The  
> presentor also spoke enthusiastically about scanning two other  
> major libraries. Of course there is much to be said of the planned  
> imaging technology which will be applied to the these pages...the  
> reading of texts which had been written below the most readable  
> texts, those older texts having been washed off in order to reuse  
> the parchment being a major consideration.
>
>   I referred him to Jonas Palm's "Digital Black Hole."
>
>   While I am just thinking out loud...I wonder, by the time such  
> projects are done, what will be the state of the files of the first  
> pages scanned...will that data be error free...will we have changed  
> file formats...will our indexing modalities be the same...will our  
> imaging technology have evolved to provide us with even greater  
> clarity? Of course these are concerns which those of us in audio  
> preservation have considered from the first time we were able to  
> reformat.
>
>   For me, there are some fascinating questions. When is a library  
> not a library? My answer is, when the information is digitized.  
> When it is digitized it becomes magnetic storage in a computing  
> facility. Hence, libraries are now becoming coffee bars, cafes,  
> lounges, movie theaters, etc. Ah, now it all makes sense to me!
>
>   And, if you want a book, you go to Barnes and Noble or amazon.com  
> or abebooks.com or...
>
>   Karl
>

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